Former MotoGP star Alvaro Bautista has all but thrown in the 2019 WorldSBK Championship towel after a fourth crash in as many race weekends saw king Jonathan Rea extend his lead to almost two race wins.
It could have been a different start to the Laguna Seca weekend for Alvaro Bautista but the long time championship leader, who entered the American round 24 points behind, looked in strong form as he tried to make a solid start after three crashes in three previous rounds.
Not to be, despite a positive attitude and demonstrating real pace. After qualifying front row, he was stalking leader Rea and the resurgent Chaz Davies his own team-mate, when disaster struck for the fourth time in four weekends.
Entering turn five his front washed out and he tumbled into the scenery, re-starting but finishing out of the points. “It has been another crash in race one and I do not know exactly why because I was in the leading group not pushing a lot to stay there,” Bautista told bikesportnews.com.
“I was behind Chaz and then suddenly I lost the front tyre. It has been a big disappointment because this weekend we did very well; both Ducati riders - Chaz and me. I think all the good luck we had at the beginning of the season has disappeared. We are fast but sometimes you need good luck.
“In any case we keep strong and positive for the future. We now we can have good speed and we can fight for the victory in almost all the races. We have to keep together the team positivity and the same work as now and we will see the future.”
Bautista had found an improved feel for the opening race in the USA, and was part of a three riders bunch of Rea, Davies and himself in he early laps.
“I think the feeling is the same but today I felt much better than yesterday or in Donington,” said Bautista. “The feeling was quite good and I was working well. I thought our pace was the fight for the victory. Right now with the bike for sure we have negative and positive points. I think right now we are more on the positive points so we have to keep working like we are doing and try to have more good luck.”
Bautista is as amazed as any of us with how fast his one-time serious points advantage has been reversed recently, as he said, “Anything can happen. In the beginning I had a really big gap and now we are back (down) with a big gap, but everything can change. We have to keep focused on ourselves to improve the bike and improve myself, try to not crash again.”
He is also not sure he can claw back enough to Rea, even with four rounds after Laguna, and two races still to go on the Laguna weekend.
Our target is to give the maximum because I think now the championship is almost over because the gap is too big and now we have tracks that I have never been to before.
“For us we need to think about race by race, practice by practice, and try to enjoy the bike and develop the Ducati. And try to be always better and better each day.”
It seems a lack of all-new-bike familiarity and similar lack of overall WorldSBK experience is now being made plain. Bautista agrees, but says it is the same in other places and classes.
“In WorldSBK and everywhere,” he said. “To be a champion is not only to be a question to be the fastest rider the track. You have to have the experience the calmness, the focus. It is a combination of everything. Many riders are very fast but you have to be more than fast to be Champion. For sure this season we are getting a lot of experience that will be necessary for the future.”